The Science Work
Site is for sale:
Category: History

Abolition of serfdom in a regional and historical context


UDC 94 (470) & #34;16/18" (049.32)



© 2010 I.A. Revin

Southern Russian state technical university, South Russian State Technical University,

Prosveshcheniya St., 132, Novocherkassk, 346428, Prosvesheniya St., 132, Novocherkassk, 346428,

rectorat@npi-tu. ru rectorat@npi-tu. ru

The monograph by the famous Rostov local historian V.I. Litvinenko devoted to insufficiently studied problem - preparation and realization of an abolition of serfdom in Priazovye is analyzed. The main directions and trends of a modern regional historiography in studying the post-reform period are considered. The main attention is paid to activity of world intermediaries during agrarian transformations of 1861 and also to the attitude towards them of the former landowners and serfs.

The article analyses a monograph of a prominent regional historian from Rostov-on-Don V.I. Litvinenko concerned with the understudied problem of the development and realization of the abolition of serfdom in Priazovye. The main trends and directions of modern regional historiography in the study of post-reform period are considered. Special attention is paid to the activities of conciliators in the course of implementing agricultural reforms of 1861 as well as the attitude offormer landowners and serfs to them.

Consideration of a regional perspective of an abolition of serfdom is rather rare event in a historiography in recent years. Each new publication causes a response among experts. In this regard an exit of work of V.I. Litvinenko about an abolition of serfdom in Priazovye became a noticeable historiographic fact [1].

Priazovye represents the unique region in the with-as if-ethnic relation where the Cossack settlements (villages New Nikolaev, Elizabethan, Gnilov-Skye, etc.), possession of the Don landowners of Miussky and Cherkassk districts of Earth of army of Donskoy, colony of foreign immigrants (Armenians, Germans), large diasporas of Jews and Greeks in Taganrog and Rostov, settlements of the state peasants and noble manors of the Ekaterinoslavsky province concentrated on the small square. Each of these social groups is unique and worthy separate consideration, not accidentally many researchers paid to Priazovye special attention [2]. At the same time the uniqueness of the region left some all-Russian processes including an abolition of serfdom behind a format of scientific study. In a regional historiography very notable distortion towards a research of history of the Don Cossacks is noticeable therefore the country perspective partly receded into the background. Even less publications are devoted to the history of Priazovye. The exception is made, perhaps, only by the history of the Azov cities of Rostov, Taganrog, Nakhchivan, Azov. Therefore come out

the factual essay of V.I. Litvinenko partly meets the designated historiographic lack.

On the basis of a number of collections of unpublished archival documents from the State Archive of the Rostov Region (SARR) the author could solve the main task of a research - to show the process of implementation of peasant reform in "the social and psychological plan". The first part of work is devoted to the history of formation of landowner land tenure in Priazovye and to prerequisites of an abolition of serfdom. In it short characteristic of noble land tenure of the region is stated, organizational actions of the authorities for ensuring transformations on places, in particular, division into world sites, elections of world intermediaries and also their rights and duties are considered [1, page 11 - 17]. World intermediaries were elected from among large landowners who possessed on the property rights not less than 500 des. lands. They had broad judicial and police functions in borders of the sites (as a rule, 3 - 4 sites on the county) and submitted to directly district leader of the nobility.

In realization of the most peasant reform in Priazovye by the author quite logically allocated the following stories: activity of institute of world intermediaries, the procedure of introduction of authorized diplomas and the conclusion of redemption contracts [1, page 93 - 95]. Unfortunately, the stated narrow chronological framework of a research (1861 - 1862) disregarded

key redemption operation, but at the same time allowed to consider activity of world intermediaries more scrupulously. Actually for the first time in a modern regional historiography the institute of world intermediaries in Priazovye is in detail and comprehensively analyzed. And the author not only subjected to comprehensive study their activity, but also made an attempt of classification of political moods of these officials [1, page 13]. It allowed to approach critically the analysis of istochnikovy base (F. 99, 235 GARO) and as a result to estimate a role of world intermediaries in an abolition of serfdom more objectively.

P.M. Homentovsko-go's identity became the central figure of the narration for V.I. Litvinenko. The living, figurative literary language restores a picture difficult, contradictory, sometimes on the verge of open opposition of events of 1861, revealed through activity of the world intermediary of the 3rd site. Together with P.M. Homentovsky and his colleagues from other world sites K.P. Ivanov, I.P. Sarandinaki, K.A. Holyara the reader penetrates and resolves the conflicts arising between landowners and the former serfs. As a result process of settling of land and receivership proceeding, determination of the size of a country (izdelny) duty, trial of minor criminal offenses (manhandling, disobedience of peasants, etc.), punishments of drunkards and shirkers reveals.

Lawful it is possible to consider judgments of the author of moral responsibility for successful carrying out reform of 1861 of the local nobility which by a social status, on cultural and educational level was above the surrounding peasantry [1, page 31]. Not the accidentally Russian government expected their objectivity and independence in decision-making, allocating world intermediaries from among large landowners with wide powers. However not all landowners understood this installation of the power. Moreover, not all world intermediaries realized the part assigned to them in elimination of legal illiteracy and protection of the civil rights both peasants, and landowners. In such conditions to the forefront there were personal characteristics of world intermediaries, in particular their ability to step through a rigid framework of class society, without breaking the law.

In the course of radical withdrawal pains of the serf relations there were serious legal collisions [1, page 33, 36 - 37]. Sometimes situations were so difficult and tangled that world intermediaries did not know, to work how exactly and asked for the help in higher instances [1, page 61]. And world intermediaries needed to explain the main ideas of reform of 1861, nuances of the new legislation, the right and obligation of the parties not only to peasants (many of which considered themselves deceived), but also to landowners [1, page 51 - 52, 70 - 71, etc.]. The last did not wish to leave habitual serf methods of managing and did not seek for wide use of wage labor. Therefore the identity of the most world intermediary P.M. Homentovsky who did not have own serfs and "enticing" peasants of the next dushevladelets aroused serious mistrust of local landowners. Actually this circumstance, along with "connivance" of the world intermediary to peasants, led to emergence of "plot" against it [1, page 68 - 76]. Let's notice that as initiators of discharge from a position of the world intermediary dissatisfied land owners, but not peasants to whose opinion the authorities listened a little acted. This fact calls into question the thesis dominating in a historiography that reform was undertaken only for the benefit of landowners. Moreover, fight went in nobility between supporters of the liberal political policy and conservatives. On regional material of V.I. Litvinenko traces peripetias of this fight. Only the adherence to principles and excellent knowledge of laws allowed Homentovsky to assert the rights and to keep a position. The author is kind and expresses the sympathies for this historical character, characterizes him as person with the progressive and liberal political views on carrying out reform of 1861. Unfortunately, disclosure of an image of Homentovsky happens sometimes at the expense of other participants of events. So, by consideration of peasants' revolts in the territory of the 4th world site of V.I. Litvinenko does not consider the fact of existence in it of large landowners in whose manors the serf orders were firmer, inveterate.

"Great reform" could lead to great shocks and that it did not occur, the authorities undertook on places, including in Priazovye, a row died, up to attraction to suppression of peasants' revolts of army divisions [1, page 39 - 48]. The initiative of quartering of troops in problem areas had to proceed not only from the landowner, but also from the world intermediary. Attraction of army parts to suppression of dissatisfied peasants happened on the basis of the address of the last to the district leader of the nobility. So, liberally adjusted intermediaries P.M. Homentovsky and K.P. Ivanov aspired in all ways not to allow intervention of army while supporters of the conservative line, in particular K.A. Holyara, insisted on obligatory introduction of troops. The same situation is traced also at the district level. The Rostov leader of the nobility E.M. Kovalinsky inclined to a thought of involvement of army "for settlement of an order" whereas the commander of reserve shooting semi-crew lieutenant colonel Landsberg acted against.

The third semantic part of work opens the procedure of an approval of authorized diplomas. On February 19, 1861 the authorized diploma determined the size of an allotment of vremennoobyazanny peasants and duties for use by "Positions" by it and also fixed data on the size of grounds, transferring of country estates, etc. During the Soviet period the Ukrainian historians studying an abolition of serfdom in the Ekaterinoslavsky province [3] were engaged in the analysis of contents of authorized diplomas. Unlike the predecessors V.I. Litvinenko approached this problem from other party. He on the example of the Azov villages in detail considers the procedure of an approval of authorized diplomas [1, page 87 - 93]. And for this purpose not so much authorized diplomas (which texts are cited in an essay), how many reports of world intermediaries on circumstances of their statement were the main source.

V.I. Litvinenko finishes the narration the description of "delights of hiring" of agricultural workers by the former landowners. But, unfortunately, everything came down to consideration of only one conflict between the employer and hired workers [1, page 97 - 98]. Such author's approach is dictated, first of all, by that circumstance that "direct documentary evidences about terms of employment... it was not succeeded to find in archive materials and hardly they are available in general" [1, page 95]. However the local periodical press of 1870 - contains the 1880th quite detailed descriptions of the procedure of hiring, working conditions and payment. The most detailed statement can be found in publications of "the Don Regional Sheets", in particular, in material M. Fifes kina [4]. In our opinion, referring to V.P. Radchenko's publication, V.I. Litvinenko insufficiently with deep arguments compares position of serfs to collective farmers during the Soviet period.

Apparently the author did not put the task to pass from statement of concrete historical events and the phenomena to their detailed judgment. Unfortunately there is no analysis of number of the authorized diplomas signed by peasants, definition of probabilistic consequences, characteristic of the relation of peasants to signing of these documents, the analysis of essential conditions of obligations assumed by the parties. Data on the nature of duties and responsibility of peasants for their execution are of special interest. In most cases landowners insisted on mutual responsibility of peasants, but to Dona and in Priazovye cases when peasants managed to achieve individual responsibility for performance of duties [5] are known. The similar phenomenon was observed generally in manors of small estate landowners which in Priazovye there was a vast majority. Besides, if to judge by the number of the authorized diplomas signed by peasants, then serious resistance to commission of this legal procedure did not exist. So, for January 1, 1863 in the Ekaterinoslavsky province including then Priazovye 72.07% of diplomas, in the neighboring Earth of army of Donskoy - 55.14%, and on average in Russia only of 42% were signed [6].

V.I. Litvinenko is limited to the description of authorized diplomas which logical continuation of a statement was redemption operation. In the Ekaterinoslavsky province the contracts with landowners in 90% of cases had personal character whereas traditionally in Russia they were formed community [7]. Such difference in implementation of redemption operations in many respects is explained by mental and ethnic and organizational and economic features of the population. The individualism and aspiration to economic independence of peasants - natives of Little Russia were shown in prevalence of these qualities over the communal traditions more characteristic of Russian "bulk". If the author used some materials from the previous publications [8], then he for certain would manage to come for significant scientific generalizations of regional specifics of implementation of peasant reform of 1861

An osnovny conclusion of the author about careful readiness of an abolition of serfdom is not subject to doubt [1, page 100] that he repeatedly confirms and illustrates collected concrete historical material. In the center and on places realized all complexity of the intra class conflict in the circle of the nobility which overcoming acted as one of tasks in reform implementation, and V.I. Litvinenko could open this situation on concrete examples. He paid attention to, apparently, private historical plot about world intermediaries, but without it it is impossible to transfer the moods reigning in society, the relations of the Azov noblemen to reform, motivation and behavioural reactions of peasants in the conditions of a new algorithm of interaction with the former owners.

Agreeing with the author in estimates of private and historical plots, we consider that the previous historiography focused attention on predefiniteness of reform for the benefit of nobility. However deeper addressing the analysis of historical sources and first of all archive materials, does not confirm unambiguity of such historiographic estimates. Peasants rather deliberately estimated and perceived the happened changes. And part of them sincerely prayed for "The father Tsar Osvoboditel and for all Reigning house. At many tears in the eyes, gratitude tears were visible. In response to the priest's congratulation, peasants expressed desire that on February 19 it was always celebrated by them and their descendants from generation to generation" [9].

Accumulation of the concrete historical facts in the researches similar to V.I. Litvinenko's work allows to conduct search of new interpretations both peasant reform in general, and separate it regionally the expressed fragments. This work reflects the developing historiographic trend when local history publications overcome the known opisatelnost and become the platform for expansion of scientific discussions and deeper analysis of historical sources. This circumstance deserves not only positive assessment, but also demonstrates that regional historians have an opportunity again to return to detailed consideration of process of implementation of peasant reform of 1861 to which any private plots will be of undoubted scientific interest.


1. V.I. Litvinenko. Parting with the serfdom in Priazovye (1861 - 1862): factual essay. Rostov N / D, 2010. 104 pages
2. S.M. Markedonov. Jews in the field of Donskoy's army at the end of XIX - the beginning of the 20th century//Works of the Second youth conference of the CIS on Jewish Sciences. Issue 2. M, 1998; Root E.V. The German colonies of Area of army of Donskoy (the last third of XIX - 1914): avtoref. yew... edging. east. sciences. Rostov N / D, 2003; M.G. Nigokhosov. Business activity of the Don Armenians in the south of Russia (the end of XVIII - the beginning of the 20th century): avtoref. yew.... edging. east. sciences. Rostov N / D, 2007; etc.
3. D.P. Poyda. To a question of preparation and the course of reform of 1861 in the Ekaterinoslavsky province//the Collection of works of historical office of a historical and philological fapostupil in edition

kultet. Issue 2. T. 42. Dnipropetrovsk, 1954. C. 85 - 106; N.N. Leshchenko. Redemption operation in the south of Ukraine//the Year-book on the agrarian history of Eastern Europe. L., 1968. Page 225 - 235; It. Results of carrying out reform of 1861 in the Ekaterinoslavsky province according to authorized diplomas//the Year-book on the agrarian history of Eastern Europe. M, 1974. C. 381 - 388; etc.

4. M. Dudykin. A note about workers//Donskoy regional sheets. 1875. No. 95. Page 3.
5. Authorized diplomas on manors of landowners//GARO. T. 213. Op. 1. 1344. L. 3 about.
6. P.A. Zayonchkovsky. An abolition of serfdom in Russia. M, 1968. Page 199 - 200.
7. Naddnepryansky Ukraine in the second half of the 19th century of URL: (date of the address: 18.10.2010).
8. V.I. Litvinenko. Village of Priazovye: Local history materials. Rostov N / D, 2010. 184 pages
9. From the Miussky district//the Don regional sheets. 1871. No. 23. Page 3.

On October 28, 2010

Barbara Gordon
Other scientific works: